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How do you stop the common nosebleed?

Most people who develop nose bleeding can handle the problem without the need of a treatment by a health-care professional if they follow the step-by-step first aid recommendations below on how to stop a nosebleed:

  1. Lean forward slightly with the head tilted forward. Leaning back or tilting the head back allows the blood to run back into the sinuses and throat, and can cause gagging or inhaling of blood.
    • Spit out any blood that may collect in your mouth and throat. It may cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea if swallowed.
    • Gently, blow any blood clots out of your nose. The nosebleed may worsen slightly when you do this but this is expected.
  2. Pinch all the soft parts of the nose together between the thumb and index finger.
  3. Press firmly toward the face - compressing the pinched parts of the nose against the bones of the face. Breathe through your mouth as you do this.
  4. Hold the nose for at least five minutes. Repeat as necessary until the nose has stopped bleeding.
  5. Sit quietly, keeping the head higher than the level of the heart. Do not lay flat or put your head between your legs.
  6. Apply ice (wrapped in a towel) to nose and cheeks afterwards.
  7. Oxymetazoline (Afrin), phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine, Neofrin), or phenylephrine-DM-guaifenesin (Duravent) nasal spray can be used short-term to help with congestion and minor bleeding if you do not have high blood pressure. However, these sprays should not be used for more than a few days at a time, as they can make congestion and nosebleeds worse.

Stuffing cotton or tissue into your nose is not recommended.

Return to Nosebleed

See what others are saying

Comment from: Dave Y, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: August 30

I recently had a 45 minute nose bleed from my left nostril. In desperation I wet the little finger on my left hand with water and gently pushed it all the way up my left nostril as far as it would go and held pressure with it against the center of my nose. The bleeding stopped in about 2 minutes. I was told that in emergency rooms they can insert small balloons and inflate them to stop the bleeding. I guess it places the pressure where it is needed and keeps excess blood from slowing down clot formation.

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Comment from: Sharry, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: August 23

Afrin is the nosebleed stopper! I carry a bottle in my purse. Here are the instructions. Grab a tissue. Fold or twist into a soft corner that will go in your nose and fill it. Now take your Afrin, and spray the tissue. Shove up your nose and gently hold with pressure from your fingers on the outside. This should stop it. Sit down and relax, and now prepare another one, and after a few minutes, remove the first one and plug in a clean one. This stops mine, thanks to my ENT.

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Comment from: djn, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: March 15

I had nosebleeds as a teenager, then nothing. When I turned about 40 I started getting massive bleeds. If you have them as a kid, they will likely reoccur later. I have been burned four times, nasal packing was routine for a while. The best solution for getting them stopped for me is Afrin, plus ice on the nose or on the roof of the mouth. That usually can control it till I get into the ENT. Prevention people, prevention, I use bacitracin daily on a Q-Tip, and lubricate both sides. Then I use a nasal spray a couple times during the day. If it is particularly dry out, I will spray some Afrin up there in the morning as a preventive measure.

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